‘True picture’ of Covid in Bristol emerges after suspension of testing lab

Bristol City Council says we have not seen a “true picture” of the spread of the virus in the city due to a lab testing issue.

Less than two weeks ago, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) announced that a private Covid testing lab in Wolverhampton had been suspended from processing NHS tests due to an unusually high number of negative results.

It was found that up to 43,000 people, mainly in the South West, had received false negative Covid test results, resulting in public health officials urging the public to get retested.

READ MORE: Three Covid patients die and more than 1,080 new cases confirmed in Bristol region

Bristol City Council today highlighted the rapidly rising number of Covid cases in Bristol, blaming the lab issue for an incorrect picture of the virus in the city.

In a tweet, the local authority said: “Due to the laboratory testing issue being investigated, we have not seen a true picture of COVID19 infection rates in Bristol in the last few weeks.

“The issue has been resolved, however, we are seeing our rates rise as a result.”

Data from the council shows that since the lab was suspended, Covid case numbers have risen dramatically in Bristol.

On October 8, the Covid rate was 155 cases per 100,00 people, and that had risen to 271 cases per 100,000 people by October 12.

The Wolverhampton lab was suspended from processing NHS tests on October 15, at which point the Covid rate was 521 cases per 100,000 people.

On Tuesday, October 20, the rate was 764 cases per 100,000 people.

Data from the government’s Covid dashboard show that cases continue to rise daily in and around Bristol, which is similar to the country as a whole.

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Christina Gray, Bristol Director of Public Health, said last week that Covid “continues to circulate widely in our communities”, adding: “it has not gone away.”

She added: “The highest rates at the moment are in younger age groups, so in school-aged children.”

Ms Gray urged Bristolians to continue or increase the precautions they are taking to protect themselves and others from infection, including mask-wearing, social distancing and ventilating indoor spaces.

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